Can one be at the very top of a profession and still have balance? It was a question posed to me by a very talented executive who will most certainly be at the top of their profession within a few years. They are very analytical and quite rightly questioned whether it was possible to actually have the kind of balance they would like and still be able be at the top of their profession with the demands that this would place on them.
Balance in this case needs to be defined, a balance to be able to give enough time to your profession (which is time, energy demanding, has an established outdated political system/structure and one you want to be successful in-because it is important to ones identity and it also does good in the world), Time to be with their family, their two small children that require time and energy, time to be with friends, family and most importantly their partner, time to have a hobby and to continue with their personnel development and be financially stable the list could go on slightly further? Why is balance important anyway? Or do we think that I only need to work hard this year and then next year I can slow down (but next year never comes).
If we were to look at those people that are around us, that are at the top of their profession what would we find? People in balance? For example, someone starting their own business, someone preparing to be an international sportsperson, someone who is running a multimillion pound company. Do we even have to look at someone trying to be at the top of their profession, how hard is it for someone just wanting to do a good job to be in balance? Is balance only something you come to as you develop as a person and move from being driven by selfish interest/need, to being able to give time to others. Are we out of balance because of the difficulties of trying to keep others in balance and the difficulties that this then creates? Or is true balance an internal thing that when we are happy/content with ourselves as people we can then give time to others and create both an internal and external balance to our lives.
I have now written and rewritten this blog due to the number of thoughts that I have considered over the last two days, I have looked at the difference in balance between a single person and one with a family, I have looked at the need to be out of balance for specific periods of time in order to achieve something that does require single focus and time to be an expert. I have looked at the demands placed on those people that we have a responsibility to for their needs to be in balance too and many other areas. I have looked at the possibility of balance just being an element of psychobabble that people like me earn a living from.
My conclusion to the question follows a lot of my thoughts of late and that is of our own individual development and understanding of what is actually going on inside ourselves and our ability to develop our behaviours to be in balance in order to ensure that we do actually perform at the highest levels of performance when we need to and enjoy being there.
This does mean that at times I will be out of balance simply because I will need to spend more time in one area of my life than another. The key is that I am aware of this and the impact it has on my internal and external life. I can then ensure that I know what is missing and when I am going to take time to rebalance and have an equilibrium that ensures I understand the needs of those around me as well as my own. If we do not do this there is always a price to pay in terms of physical and mental well being.
This is the important element, to understand what we need to be in balance and what we need to rebalance (this will of course be different from each individual but it also surprising at the common things we need to make us happy). I have now worked in most industries and when I see people out of balance they are unaware they are and they are actually burning themselves out without realising it. This can create a magnitude of problems for the individual internally and externally. (I will explain the dynamics of this in my next blog)
The other element we must also be aware of is the addictive quality to a certain way of life, my work has always been fulfilling and continues to be so, it meets my needs physically and mentally and because of the intensity of many different situations in both training and operationally it was certainly an adrenaline rush and my desire to keep in this type of World was certainly addictive. My awareness of this helped to keep the balance I need and thus I think I perform more effectively as a result of it.
An understand of our internal and external worlds plays such a significant part in this. It gives us principles to work from and thus we have a guide to assist us if we stray in the wrong direction. Why do I think this is important?…………….More to follow.